Last Updated on 1 November 2023 by Rebecca
Are you planning a camping trip this year? Are you determined to maximise our excellent outdoors and head off for some exciting adventures? Camping is a great outdoor activity that can be enjoyed as a solo adventure or with friends and family.
Despite good intentions, though, something always gets forgotten when it comes to camping. Having a well-thought-out camping list can prevent leaving an essential item at home such as a first aid kit or, heaven forbid, your sleeping bag. Trust me, it’s been done before!
On a side note, forgetting your cell phone or your wallet can put just as much of a damper on your camping trip as forgetting to pack your tent.
In order to avoid your next camping trip turning into a disaster, read on to find out what essentials you should consider with this ultimate camping checklist.
Your Camping List: What Every Camper Needs
All great camping lists begin with these important items. This camping checklist contains items you can carry with you on your camping trip – whether you’re camping solo or with a group of friends – helping to make your experience more enjoyable.
When planning your adventure, you should take into account all weather conditions as nature has a way of changing when we least expect it. By being prepared, you can avoid turning your journey into a nightmare. Create great memories by being prepared. And if this is your first hiking adventure, check out this great hiking for beginners guide to get started!
The following camping list is one we’ve used on our camping adventures in Wales and have found to be really helpful. Hopefully, it will be for you too.
This tent camping list has been broken down into subsections, providing the campsite essentials you need for your next trip – whether to private campgrounds or off-grid – to make it an enjoyable and memorable experience for all involved.
Shelter Camping List
Whether you’re heading out camping with the whole family for a long weekend at one of your local national parks or you’re taking your tent on an extended holiday in the woods, the following items are camping essentials designed to make your next outdoor adventure a comfortable and enjoyable one.
Tent (if you want the best camping experience, you probably don’t want to forget your tent – unless you’re happy sleeping out under the stars)
Tent stakes (extra stakes are always a good idea to have on hand for anything else other than staking your tent to the ground)
Tent repair kit (just in case you need to make any quick repairs during your camping trip. You usually get spare bits with your tent when you buy it and will consist of square pieces of tent fabric and glue)
Sleeping bags (a definite must for keeping warm and cosy when it’s time to bunk down for the night)
Liners for your sleeping bags (so you don’t have to wash your sleeping bags every time you use them. When you do get home, just shake your sleeping bag out to air it out)
Sleeping pad, an air mattress, or camping bed (for added comfort, so you’re not sleeping directly on the tent floor)
Air pump (if needed for the air mattress)
Pillow (while it’s not a necessary item, a pillow does bring a bit of home comfort when camping)
Mallet and puller to get those tent stakes out of the ground again
Torch, head torch, and spare batteries (for those visits that require a trip to the bathroom, unless you’ve got your own camping toilet)
Portable charger (so you always have enough battery power on your phone)
Table and camping chairs
First aid kit
First Aid Kit
Speaking of first aid kits, this is definitely an item that should be on your camping list. Each aid kit will vary depending on what you need, but here are the items that should be included in a sealed container.
You may never need it, but it’s a good idea to bring one with you. If you don’t need it, you may be able to help someone who does.
Disposable sterile gloves
Plasters in a variety of sizes
Sterile gauze dressings in different sizes
Sterile eye dressings
Resuscitation face shield
Whether you’re heading to a campsite or camping off-grid, an aid kit is an important piece of kit that should make up one of your personal items. You may find you need other items, depending on your needs, but the above items should, at least, be part of your camping list kit.
Clothing Camping List Essentials
Whether you’re cold weather camping or heading off on outdoor adventures in warmer weather, the clothing items you pack will largely depend upon how warm or cold the temperature is.
A good layering system is a great way of staying warm when the weather takes a turn and includes a baselayer, a midlayer, and a rain jacket. Having the correct footwear can also go a long way to providing you with extra comfort should you decide to go on a hike during your camping trip.
For an idea as to camping gear to include, here is a list of items we pack from our camping list.
Waterproof jacket and trousers
Woolly hat, gloves, and sunhat
Baselayer (especially if the weather turns cold on your camping trip)
Down or synthetic jacket
Spare underwear and socks
Clean and dry clothes to sleep in
Clothes that are made from a lightweight and fast-drying material
Suncream, sunglasses, and bug protection
Camp sandals or slippers
Any other activity-specific clothing
You won’t always need all these clothing camping list items, especially when you’re winter camping when the need for hiking shorts are not required in your camping gear. Unless you don’t mind the cold and getting chilly knees.
If you’re camping during the other times of the year when the weather isn’t so cold, it’s a good idea to have a selection of clothing items. That way if you do experience extreme heat or cold, you know you’ve got the clothes to keep you warm or cool.
Weather-Appropriate Clothing for Your Camping Packing List
Before heading off, you should check the weather conditions where you’re going and pack your clothes accordingly.
We took our eldest daughter up to Ben Nevis in Scotland for her second birthday, but failed to realise just how cold the conditions would be at the top. We soon realised that Wellington boots were a poor substitute to keep her feet warm.
We quickly learnt from our mistake and soon bought the correct shoes for our next adventure. It’s times when you’re outdoors on adventures that you find out whether you have the right kit or not. And if you don’t, simply change what didn’t work for you.
When it comes to clothes, choose ones that are made from lightweight cotton that are moisture-wicking and can be worn a number of times without worrying about odour. When you are hiking or going on an adventure, carry spare clothes in your backpack in case you experience a change in temperature.
The last thing you want is to be too cold or hot.
Camp Kitchen Camping List Essentials
If you’re planning on camping for more than a night, it’s worthwhile setting up a quality camp kitchen.
Veteran campers understand the benefits of things like a camp stove and a camping kettle kettle in their camping gear, but don’t forget the other items too such as eating and cooking utensils, food storage containers or even a camp table just in case there are no picnic tables where you’re going.
Here are a few things you might want to take with you.
Camp stove (for those all-important campfire cooking memories where you can cook food easily)
Lighter or matches
Food storage containers
Eating and cooking utensils to eat your camp cooking
Iron cookware, pots, pans, and kettle (if you’re struggling for space, you can always leave the kettle and use one of the pots to make your morning tea. We’ve done this a few times and found the pots worked a charm)
Cool box or fridge
Ice packs to keep your food chilled (although once these melt, there’s no way of freezing them again until you get back home)
Plastic bins or plastic bags for your rubbish
Plates, bowls, and cups
Tin and bottle opener
Tea towels, dish soap, and dish cloths
Camp table (if no picnic table)
When you have finished your meals, it’s important to clean up. This is so you don’t attract animals or insects where you’re camping, and make sure you don’t leave any rubbish in your camp kitchen overnight.
Camp Kitchen Cleanup
To clean your camp kitchen area and to prevent any unwanted guests, here are a few items to include on your camping list.
Quick drying towels
Pot scrubber or sponge
Dish drying rack
Refillable water jug
If you’re camping at a campsite, they generally have a cleanup area where you can take your dishes to wash them.
Must-Have Camping Food Items
The last thing you want to find when you get to a campsite is that there’s no food store to pick up the essential food items. No one wants to be around a hungry camper!
Instead, bring enough food for your trip that includes something to eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s best if you find a variety of groceries depending on what you need so you can be sure of a balanced meal.
If you’re out hiking, chances are you’ll come across a village or town that’ll have shops and pubs where you can grab some food. If you are being more remote, it’s a good idea to have a few food items on hand.
Some of these include:
Fruit, including apples and bananas
Dried foods, including jerky and fruit
Small boxes of cereal
Bread to make those yummy peanut butter and jam sandwiches
Health and Hygiene Personal Items
Whether you’re staying on one of the many campgrounds worldwide or you’re going elsewhere, staying clean can sometimes be a challenge. That, however, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Thankfully, most campsites will have camping facilities enabling you to wash making your life a bit easier.
If not, you may want to consider other means of having a quick wash, like a portable shower that you can hang up and fill with water. We use a portable shower when we have no other way of washing and have found it to be effective enough for a quick rinse.
If you need the toilet, you can always find a bush to go behind…just make sure you take any toilet paper away with you.
No one wants to see used toilet paper where people have been before when they’re trying to enjoy the surroundings they are in.
Here are some basic necessities you’ll need on your next camping trip in order to stay clean and healthy.
Soap, shampoo, and conditioner
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Any medicines you take
First aid kit
Hand sanitiser and wipes
Face masks to wear in communal spaces
Optional Camping Checklist Essentials
Most of the items above are obvious camping essentials that every camper should pack for their camping trips, but below are some other items you may want to think about when putting your camping gear together.
Notebook and pen/pencil
Cell phone with charger
Binoculars, in case you want to go bird watching
Cards and cash
Map, GPS, compass
Clothes line and pegs
Some of these items aren’t necessary such as a hammock or camp games, but they can certainly help make your adventure more enjoyable, particularly if you’ve got little ones and the weather forecast isn’t that great.
Best Family Camping Tips
Car camping trips with your family are a great way to get everyone outside enjoying the great outdoors. Not only will you be taking in the fresh air and switching off from technology, but you’ll be creating amazing memories while boosting bonds.
Chances are if young children get involved with camping at a young age, they will continue to enjoy it when they’re older.
In order to make the most of your time away camping, the below tips are designed to help.
Arrive at the campsite before it gets dark so you have enough daylight to set up your tent and get organised.
If you don’t have a travel toilet, try and pitch your tent near the toilets, especially if you have little ones camping. If they need the toilet at night, you won’t have far to go.
Do as much food prep as you can at home and remember that camping involves eating simple food.
Involve your kids in what you’re doing, whether that’s packing all the items you need from your ultimate camping checklist or helping to set up the tent. They’ll get more enjoyment out of the whole experience.
Bring games and activities along for those rainy days or when you’re having some downtime.
To stop the spread of dirt inside the tent, bring a rug that can be set up either inside your tent entrance or outside the tent. This is where you can store your shoes.
Planning Your Camping Trip
Plan your camping trip in advance of when you’re actually going. The worst thing you can do is leave packing your camping gear to the last minute, which is when you’re likely to forget something.
Make sure you book your campsite as well. If you’re camping during the high season, you won’t be able to turn up at a campsite as they’ll likely be fully booked. During the low season, you probably have more chance of doing this, but it’s still a good idea to book beforehand.
When you do book, you can check out what amenities are offered by the campground, if any. You can also view photographs and read comments from other campers, giving you a good idea as to what the campsite is like.
Another consideration is to decide when you want to go camping. Are you likely to go when the weather is fair or when the colder months set in? If it’s the latter, you’ll need to think more about what to bring such as a cold-weather sleeping bag, a four-season tent, warmer clothes, and possibly snowshoes.
Also, who will you be camping with? Will it just be yourself or will you be camping with the whole family, including little ones and pets?
If kids are involved, definitely consider bringing some games such as cards or balls to make their camping experience more enjoyable so they’ll want to return for more. You want them to love camping, so make sure they have fun too.
With pets, ensure they have a leash long enough that allows them to roam freely around the campsite while remaining close. You’ll find that dogs will need to be kept on a lead when you’re walking around the campsite. Some do have designated areas where you can have dogs off the lead to get their daily walks in, which is ideal if you have no other way of walking them properly.
Pack collapsible bowls for your pets for easy storage, and have somewhere warm for them to sleep on at night.
Camping is all about getting out and enjoying the great outdoors we have around us. It’s something anyone can do with a bit of planning. And, most importantly, it should be fun. Camping trips are a great way to reconnect with nature while switching off from modern technology.
They should be enjoyed by all and if you have a camping packing list on hand, you won’t run the risk of leaving something behind such as a sleeping bag.
If this is your first time camping and you’re finding the whole idea a bit overwhelming, know that if you take the time to pack what you need and do your research beforehand as to what to expect, you may find you love camping so much that you want to do it again.
Whether you’re camping in your own backyard with the kids, going to a campsite, or heading off-grid for your next outdoor tent adventure, take the time to ensure you have all the items you need.
If you’re planning your next camping trip this year, use this camping list. And remember, camping is a wonderful outdoor adventure that can be enjoyed all year long.